These are VERY difficult days, for investors and those whom they depend upon to advise them. Until this past week every investor who had sold an investment at any time during this past six weeks was glad they had and every investor who hadn’t wished they had. Those of us who have counseled patience and to avoid selling into a market panic hope this market rebound continues but some investors are understandably concerned that this market decline may not be over.
Americans are seeking facts and find that much of the information they receive is contradictory. Some of it suggests the Coronavirus is not much worse than the flu and we’re grossly overreacting to it as a nation. Others believe our economy is destined to slide into an extended recession with many of our fellow citizens becoming financial casualties of one of history’s great pandemics.
Truth and perspective, as well as peace of mind, have become casualties of these challenging times.
Those of us at Heritage Wealth Management Group treat our responsibility for your financial well being with the utmost seriousness and we have spent many dozens of hours these past several months looking at the facts as they are known and are doing our very best to be as certain as we are able that our recommendations are consistent with those facts.
While we acknowledge that we are not dealing with certitude but rather probabilities we nonetheless believe that the Coronavirus can be understood and that our understanding of its behavior in other countries these past several months can be used to shed light on its impact upon this country both now in the present and in the near term future.
We believe that the United States is just now entering the period of the peak lethality of the Coronavirus. The numbers of daily fatalities will remain close to the current levels and then, we suspect, will start to decline in the next several weeks. By the end of April we anticipate that daily fatalities will be notably lower than current levels and that as we enter into May the Coronavirus will cease to pose a significant threat to the health of the American people.
We are optimistic that by mid April the shuttering of our economy will start to be reversed and that while we will experience some reduction in economic growth rates in March and April the economy will rebound and will experience limited lasting negative effects. With that expectation we believe there is a significant likelihood the financial markets will fully recover and by late this year possibly make new highs.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
We have been and will continue to realize losses for those investments our client’s hold in their taxable accounts. We are reinvesting those funds back into similar but different securities and look forward to those days in the not too far distant future when we will be realizing capital gains and will be using the losses we are currently realizing to allow those gains to be realized on a non-taxable basis. We also anticipate rebalancing our client’s portfolios so that exposure to the equity markets is restored to their pre-crisis levels. We are also suggesting that those of you who may have investable funds currently sitting in cash give some consideration to employing those funds into the financial markets at a time when this will be appropriate.
We are also keeping a keen eye on the financial markets to determine to the very best of our ability a time for us to employ these strategies. The turning point for this market may not be very far distant. When it comes those of us who have suffered through this decline may be pleasantly surprised by both the speed and the power of the recovery.
WHAT WE ARE PREPARED TO DO
After the markets recover we will have a conversation with each of you to revisit your respective allocation between stocks, bonds and cash. Rapidly rising markets make a virtue out of risk which it never is. Declining markets remind us that risk is a part of investing and we’ll review the events of this past several months as an opportunity to be certain that the risk you are assuming is the level of risk that you are comfortable with. We’ll also redouble our efforts to integrate the financial planning process into our relationship with those of you for whom it is appropriate as we are reminded that your investments are not the ends but rather the means for the achieving of your financial goals.
“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we will never cease to focus upon our exploration of additional ways to increase the value of the relationship we share with you.”
As we’ve experienced these difficult days with one another we are reminded, and will never forget, that the best part of what we do is that you extend to us the very great privilege of allowing us to do it for you.
Mark H. Tekamp
March 30, 2020